Autism Voice April 2022 Newsletter

Welcome to Our April Newsletter

In the last three months, we have been working very hard to support our service users to ensure they improve their mental, emotional, financial and physical wellbeing. All our activities in the first quarter of 2022 have been towards enhancing that. We have also continued supporting our young autistic people towards independent living through our job/career advice and support programme.
At Autism Voice we believe in establishing strong and committed partnerships with other organizations, groups, institutions and individuals to enhance a better support system for autistic people and their families. Through the partnership with the Friends of Agnes Riley Garden and the Railside Community Garden, we are providing gardening for mental well-being support to autistic people (children and adults) and their parents and carers. Through this, we are providing structured gardening activities that address specific mental health and/or sensory difficulties.
Also, we continue to work with local job centres in Lambeth, Southwark and Croydon and the Park College Kennington, to provide job/career advice and support and also mental health and wellbeing support to autistic adults, parents/carers.
The covid-19 pandemic brought uncertainties and hardship, increasing our service users’ chances of experiencing poverty and mental health challenges. Experiences of anxiety and lower feelings of hope during covid-19 were particularly high. We are elated to be selected as one of seven partner organizations under the Youth Futures Fund by the London Community Foundation to provide mental health support to young people.
We are very happy to inform you all that we have resumed face to face sessions for all of our services. As a lasting impact of the coronavirus outbreak, we will continue to deliver online and telephone support to our service users.
Please look out for opportunities in this newsletter where you the reader can get involved and support autistic people and their families.

In this Newsletter

Autism Voice Updates
Featured Voices
Autism News
Get Involved
Watch Out

Autism Voice Updates Mental Health Support Service

Many of the neuro-diverse people and young parents/carers we support experience a high rate of co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and sleep problems.
The covid-19 pandemic increases experiences of anxiety, and lower feelings of hope during covid-19. Some reported feeling isolated and anxious as a result of the lockdown. Young parents with multiple children with disability were particularly depressed. Our mental health and wellbeing support services have been providing one to one and group support to autistic people and their families. Thanks to a partnership with the London Community Foundation, we are working to increase young autistic people and young mothers of autistic children’s access to mental health support services.
Our activities include:

  • Craft-making skills development
  • Social club for autistic young adults
  • Weekly play activities for autistic children
  • Wellbeing support group for young mothers and 
  • One to one mental health and wellbeing support.

Our goal for the next three years under the Youth Futures partnership is to provide culturally sensitive and practical support that would prevent unnecessary hospitalization and maximize our service-users ability to self-empower
We have a track record of successfully delivering mental health support to our community. At the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, we delivered online and telephone support to the autistic community. Our service users reported that they acquired new skills, volunteered in a community project, and engaged in regular physical and/or social activities. They reported that they were able to navigate through life with ease, connect more, enhance their social skills, and do not socially isolate or feel socially excluded. Our service users feel optimistic about their future, show interest in something new, think clearly, and approach every day with positivity, new energy, and high hopes.
We are thrilled to continue improving our service-users communication skills, digital skills, confidence and self-esteem. We are excited to continue this journey of support with all our amazing partners, supporters and service users. We welcome new partnerships and also new-service-users are always welcome.
Join our mailing list to get regular updates on our MH support for the autistic community.

Gardening for wellbeing

This January we were delighted to start gardening for wellbeing service that focused on delivering weekly structured gardening activities that aim to address specific mental health problems. 
We are happy to be working with the Friends of Agnes Riley Gardens and the Railside Community Gardens to deliver this project. 
Gardening activities are run every Saturday and weekdays during the school holidays.
Contact us if you wish to join our gardening activities.

Our holiday activities for 2022 are on the roll

We continue to deliver outstanding holiday, food and fun activities for children. During the February half-term, the children enjoyed a pizza making experience at the Woodfield Pavilion and they also got to do some gardening activities at the Railside Community Garden. They also had a surprise visit by members of parliament of Streatham, Bell Ribeiro-Addy and Councilor of Streatham Wells Marianna Masters. Both children and their parents had a thrilling time and they look forward to the Easter Holiday activities. We continue to work with Lambeth Council to deliver the Holiday and Food (HAF) activities mainly for children receiving Free School Meal (FSM).
Our focused areas for our holiday activities for children include:

  • Food and Nutrition education (Food matters workshop)
  • Arts and Craft
  • Sports and play (indoor and outdoor) and
  • Sensory activities

This easter, as part of our holiday activities and with support from Henry Smith Charity, we’ll be taking the children to Chessington Zoo and London Transport Museum. 

Wellbeing Meeting at the Park College

This March, our well-being group visited the Park College in Kennington where they had our first away well-being meeting and learned all about the fantastic work the college is doing with autistic young people. The group was taken on a tour of the college by acting Principal Catriona Guyler-Cone who told them the history of the college and the kind of support they offer to young autistic people. It was a great opportunity for some of the parents to learn and weigh options on behalf of their children. It was also a chance for autistic people to be introduced to the college and gain more knowledge about what is on offer. 
It was also a great way of strengthening our partnership with the college as we have been working with them since 2019, offering job/career advice and support services to their students. 

Streatham MP, Councilor join our February Half-term Activities

During the February Half-term, we were happy to have politicians join in our gardening activities at the Railside community garden in Streatham. We were joined by the amazing Bell Ribeiro-Addy member of parliament for Streatham and Councilor Marianna Masters. Both politicians were involved in some of the gardening activities with the children and their parents/carers. It was also a great opportunity for them to speak with our service users and volunteers to learn about the work we do in the community and see how they could involve in the future.

Food for wellbeing this Easter holiday

This Easter holiday we’ll be providing food packages to families as part of our easter food and fun programme. Thanks to Lambeth council holiday and food programme and the Felix project. Food will be provided to families of autistic children attending our holiday activities.
Other goodies will include take and make boxes which will include Caribbean burrito boxes, and fruits including a mixture of bananas, apples and satsumas.

Voices from our community

In the past three months, some of our service users have been sharing their journey with us and how our work has impacted them. In this newsletter, we share one story we find truly inspiring.

Laila’s story

Laila is a 21-year-old non-diagnosed autistic female who was referred to the project by her work coach from the Jobcentre. When Laila joined the club, she was reclusive and would only communicate with her assigned advisor. Her Mum Nancy told us that at home Laila would hide away from the world and they (her parents) were constantly telling her to try harder, move more, and “do things our way, her sister’s way,” she said. Nancy reported that Laila was a square peg that they couldn’t see as she couldn’t fit in her family’s world. With our support, Laila’s family have learned to adapt to Laila’s ways and in turn, she has tried to adapt her ways. A year ago, bread and cheese or pasta and Marmite was the only food she would cook, now she plans her weeks’ menu and cooks it. “She has become a damn good cook too,” said Nancy.
Before she would not go anywhere unless it was by car. Not only has she mastered public transport with her Mum Nancy, but she also now travels alone to her appointments.
Laila now has the confidence to voice her opinions with her family thus giving them more understanding of how she thinks and why she acts in certain ways.
The pandemic held many people as prisoners in their homes. Laila showed her strengths during the lockdowns. She became creative and confident in her creativity.
“Without the support of Autism Voice, I would have given up on getting her an assessment, your support is the backbone when needed,” Nancy said.
Through our support, Laila has now secured a job under a six months contract with kickstart.

Autism News
Government launches new reform for children and young people with SEND

The UK government this week launched a national plan described as ‘better support’ for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) with an aim of levelling up opportunities, with a key focus on ending the postcode lottery that leaves too many with worse outcomes than their peers.

The Government’s SEND and alternative provision green paper, published Tuesday 29 March, sets out its vision for a single, national SEND and alternative provision (AP) system that will introduce new standards in the quality of support given to children across education, health and care.

The ambitious green paper is the result of the SEND Review, commissioned to improve an inconsistent, process-heavy and increasingly adversarial system that too often leaves parents facing difficulties and delays accessing the right support for their child.
Follow this link for more: Ambitious reform for children and young people with SEND – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Workshops for you

Contact returns to Lambeth with a series of online workshops for parents and carers of children and young people with SEND.

Toilet Training Workshop for parents and carers – Tuesday 26th April 2022, 10.00 – 12.00 
Early Years SEN Entitlements Workshop for parents and carers – Friday 29th April 2022, 10.00 – 12.00 

For more information about the workshops please contact Sharon Kitson at lambeth@contact.org.uk

Imagination Boxes for children with SEND

Lambeth Parents Forum has some free Imagination Boxes to give away!

The Institute of Imagination, a family and children’s charity empowering children to change the world with the power of their imagination, has recently created the iOi Imagination Box, an activity pack designed to deliver their unique programmes into the hands of children outside of normal education, especially SEND learners. Activities such as how to make a fidget toy or play with light in shadow play. You can find out more about the box here.  iOi will be running more online workshops with activities from the box in the near future.
If you would like an Imagination Box for your child, please contact Lambeth Parents Forum and they will arrange a time for you to collect it from 336 Brixton Road. 

Get Involved
Volunteer With Us
Community Support and Advice Volunteer for Persons 18-25

You will be providing support to young autistic people aged 16 – 25 for 2 hours per week for 6 months.
Support includes – Being an escort for social outings e.g. Cinema, coffee shop, library, Accompanying GP & hospital visits, Befriending – Providing advocacy support, Encouraging hobbies and interests, Telephone calls, Encouraging the young person to manage domestic responsibilities.
Children and Young People Support Volunteer for Persons aged 18 – 25
You will be providing support to children and young people with autism and/or learning disabilities aged 6 – 15 for 4 hours per day during school holidays and half-terms.
Support includes – Supporting children during the meal and playtime, Liaise with the activities director regarding the support of children, Escorting children to the playground and the park, providing a stimulating and safe play environment for children, Encourage children and young people to follow their hobbies and interests, Initiate stimulating free and structured play ideas for children.
We expect you to be resilient, patient, a good listener, calm-natured, empathetic, adaptable, reliable and able to give time on a regular basis, able to accept people as they are, and have a basic understanding of Autism & Learning Disabilities.
What we provide- Training, DBS check, Volunteer stipend, Regular supervision
Contact Us On:  08458605547 or 07460399290; email:  info@autismvoice.org.uk or autismvoice1@gmail.com

Watch Out

Share something positive this Autism Acceptance Month

As we celebrate Autism Acceptance this April, we’ll be celebrating our community by sharing positive and respectful views of people in our autistic community. Views like what makes you happy, your favourite food, place visited, past time, etc would be appreciated. We particularly invite autistic people to share in this call. Parents can also ask their autistic children and share with us (please let us know you’re consenting to us using your child’s photo). Non-verbal members of our community can share through pictures, drawings or any art form of communication. Views/photos would be shared on all our social media outlets. By sending in your views you consent to us using it for publication on and offline. Please send in your quotes and/or photos via WhatsApp to 07460 399290 or email to autismvoice1@gmail.com – subject: Positive April. 
Thank You